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Common Core Crosswalk: Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

Posted by Cindy Bryant

Mar 11, 2013 7:40:00 PM

As schools develop implementation plans Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM)   there’s a common misconception that may surface that everything - all content and practices that are currently being implemented in a grade or course - must be tossed out and replaced.  But this is often far from the truth. Replacing everything, would be a classic example of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater,” when in reality there may be many commonalities between existing curriculum and the CCSSM.  

Several states have conducted crosswalk analyses between the CCSSM and existing state standards and/or expectations.  These documents are very fine grain and looking at them may be misleading to the reviewer conveying the spirit and intent of the CCSSM.  One of the major goals of the standards was to narrow the focus by identifying fewer topics in a course or grade to allow more time for in-depth instruction. Beginning with a broader view of the CCSSM helps convey the progression and connections of mathematics across K – 12.  It also affords the opportunity to sift out the commonalities between an existing curriculum’s focus and the CCSSM.  Consider this process to prevent the tossing aside of relevant curriculum when transitioning to the CCSSM.

Begin by first reading the preface and introduction to the CCSSM which provide a rationale for the standards, how to read them, and important information about the Standards for Mathematical Practice.  Second, rather than looking at the specific standards, narrow the focus and look closely at the broad overviews for each grade in K – 8 and the conceptual categories in high school.  (See the Grade 7 summary below.)

“In Grade 7, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples.”[i]  Note:  Refer to each in-depth description of the Grade 7 critical areas for instruction 1 – 4 following this summary within the CCSSM.


Next, pay careful attention to the overview for grades K – 8 and the high school conceptual categories.  The overviews include the domains and cluster headings and provide a more generalized look at connections between and across grades and conceptual categories. The grade seven overview including five domains and one to three cluster headings, along with the eight K – 12 mathematical practices follows.[i]




Cluster Headings

K – 12 Standards for Mathematical Practice

Ratios and Proportional Relationships

  • Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world mathematical problems.
  1. Make sense of problems and persevere in problem solving.
  2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  4. Model with mathematics.
  5. Use appropriate tools strategically.
  6. Attend to precision.
  7. Look for and make use of structure.
  8. Look for and express repeated regularity in repeated reasoning.

The Number System

  • Apply and extend previous understandings of operations with fractions to add, subtract, multiply, and divide rational numbers.

Expressions and Equations

  • Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.
  • Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations.


  • Draw, construct and describe geometrical figures and describe the relationship between them.
  • Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area, and volume.

Statistics and Probability

  • Use random sampling to draw inferences about a population.
  • Draw informal comparative inferences about two populations.
  • Investigate chance processes and develop, use, and evaluate probability models.

Beginning with this broader overview perspective, takes the focus away from specific standards in the beginning and to the progression of mathematics across the K – 12 an overall intent of the standards which is essential in understanding and successful implementation of the CCSSM.  It also narrows the amount of information to process and assimilate.  Identification of these broad commonalities between existing curriculum and the CCSSM provides a “snapshot” of content and practices that will not change and therefore should NOT be tossed out in the implementation of the CCSSM.  

This commonalities snapshot of the familiar content and practices is a great starting point.  It draws attention to changes called for in the CCSSM and provides a springboard for discussions among K – 12 vertical teams regarding shifts.  It leads to the review of specific standards within the CCSSM not as a checklist of skills and procedures, but as knowledge and skills for learning, understanding, and using mathematics.  Specific standards may require the addition of content to add to existing curriculums, content shifts to other grades, but being able to hang our hat on the familiar makes these changes more palatable. 

Successful implementation of the CCSSM, or any other new program for that matter, hinges upon change – change in terms of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.    Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”  Looking at the standards as a whole from your current perspective can help clarify the focus and intent of the standards and set the stage for maximizing opportunities for all K – 12 students to learn mathematics.


Align your state standards to the common core for your grade level using this spreadsheet.

Align my state's standards to CCSSM


Topics: Implementing the Common Core, Resources, Teaching & Learning

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